According to a 2016 WSIB report, 42,000 workers get injured in Canada annually as a result of a slip, trip, or fall while on the job. These types of injuries account for 18% of all lost-time injuries. So, not only are slips, trips, and falls dangerous to worker health, but they are also costly to employers.
Employers are responsible for protecting their workers from slips, trips, and falls.
Section 25 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act includes what’s known as the “general duty clause.” It states that employers must “take all reasonable precautions in the circumstance to protect the health and safety of workers.” This includes protections from hazards that may result in a slip or trip, and from hazards resulting from a fall on the same level, or from heights.
Ontario Regulation 851
Ontario Regulation 851, Section 11, sets out explicit responsibilities for employers when it comes to the prevention of slips and trips in the workplace:
“A floor or any other surface used by any worker shall be,
(a) be kept free of,
(ii) hazards, and
(iii) accumulations of refuse, snow or ice; and
(b) not have any finish or protective material used on it that is likely to make the surface slippery.
Preventing Slips and Trips and the Workplace
While it is a primary responsibility of employers to ensure that slip and trip hazards are eliminated where possible, and controlled when necessary, everybody in the workplace plays a role in slip and trip prevention. There are many ways that workers, supervisors, managers, and employers can work together to reduce slips and trips in the workplace, such as:
Ensuring that trip hazards are removed or corrected when they’re spotted
Reporting potential slip and trip hazards to supervisors
Putting salt down on icy walkways
Shovelling high-traffic areas and entryways frequently during snowfall
Keeping low filing cabinet drawers, dishwasher doors, and low storage cupboards closed when not in use
Using signage to indicate wet floors
Having sound housekeeping policies in place that prohibit clutter, boxes, or rubbish in walkways
Ontario Regulation 213 for Construction Projects contains information about the prevention of falls from heights. Like slips and trips, fall prevention involves all workplace parties, and there are many ways to work together to prevent falls, such as:
- Asking questions before starting a job at heights
- Using equipment, such as ladders and mobile lifts, correctly
- Donning appropriate PPE for the job
- Reporting potential fall hazards and defects in equipment
Training is an essential component of a workplace slip, trip, and fall prevention program. In fact, fall prevention training is so important that it’s now regulated in Ontario, as set out in Ontario Regulation 297. The Ministry of Labour’s decision to regulate working at heights training in Ontario is in response to the high number of work-related fatalities resulting from falls. The aim is to reduce or eliminate fall fatalities in Ontario through fall prevention training.